Czech Republic: Centre-right government wins confidence vote
April 27, 2012
On 27 April, the Czech government won a vote of confidence in the chamber of deputies. The vote was held after Prime Minister Petr Necas announced that the centre-right coalition, composed of the right-wing Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the Tradition Responsibility Prosperity 09 Party (TOP 09), and the Public Affairs Party (VV) had called an end to their partnership due to a lack of agreement with the VV over the current fiscal reforms. The government survived the vote in the 200-seat lower house, with the support of 105 deputies, including members from ODS, TOP 09 and a breakaway fraction from the VV party that still supports the cabinet. Although the country avoided a crisis of governance, the government's position has weakened significantly, as it now depends on the votes of non-coalition parties. Moreover, opinion polls showed that if elections were held, Necas's own ODS party would obtain only 15% of the votes, while TOP 09 would gain only between 8% and 9%. In contrast, the opposition Social Democratic Party (CSSD) would win with around 40% of the total vote. In addition to the loss of political support, public discontent continues to grow. About 100,000 people rallied in Prague on 28 April, asking the government to scrap the austerity measures and demanding early elections, in what was the largest popular protest in the country's modern history. Nevertheless, after the confidence vote was confirmed, Prime Minister Petr Necas vowed to continue with reforms aimed at cutting the fiscal deficit to 3.5% of GDP this year and to 2.0% of GDP in 2013, below the limit set by the Maastricht criteria.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist